The Atlantic, April 11th, 2019: The utter inadequacy of America’s effort to desegregate schools
METCO is a source of pride for many in Boston, a city known for its violent opposition to mandatory school busing in the 1970s. Famous alumni of the program include Marilyn Mosby, the top prosecutor in Baltimore, and Audie Cornish, the co-host of All Things Considered on NPR. Many METCO kids excel in the well-funded suburban schools: About 98 percent of METCO kids graduate from high school, compared with somewhere between 60 to 70 percent of students who attend schools in Boston, and nine in 10 say they plan to go on to higher education, compared with 59 percent in Boston, according to state data.
METCO is especially important today, as the political appetite for integration—never great—seems to be waning. The Trump administration discontinued a $12 million Obama-era grant to help local school districts boost diversity, and is scaling back federal efforts to enforce fair-housing laws. It is throwing support behind charter schools, which teachers’ unions have argued are a way to undermine integration. Trump’s rhetoric has licensed public displays of racism, and the past year has surfaced politicians trying to suppress the black vote in Georgia, showing up in yearbook photos in blackface and Ku Klux Klan hoods, and warning that their black opponents would “monkey it up” if elected. Black Americans still face discrimination when applying for jobs, buying homes, and seeking medical care.